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Traffic cops in one small Tenessee town have written a lot of traffic tickets so far this year using a new automated system. In total over 7,300 tickets have been issued.  (Source: Deadline Scotland)
Tennessee town of 17,000 has issued over 7,300 traffic tickets in half year since adopting system

The town of Farragut, Tennessee created quite a stir when it decided [PDF] back in 2006 to look at adopting an automated system to "watch" its town's drivers and automatically give them tickets for running red lights.  The system was finally contracted in 2009 to Redflex INC.  The system was completed in August 2009 with three cameras, and a fourth camera went online this summer.

The early statistics have been released by the town and they're either a staggering statement to how blatantly the town's population violates the law or how automated traffic enforcement systems may be much more active than expected.

In the first and second quarters, 7,168 and 7,213 incidents respectively were recorded by the cameras.  In total, 3,515 and 3,873 citations respectively were issued in the two quarters.  That's about 45 citations a day, or roughly 14 per camera per day (before the fourth camera came online).

To give a further breakdown, for the second quarter, 2,673 of the 7,213 incidents were rejected after review by an officer.  Another 662 incidents were not processed "due to technical issues or lack of information."  And the remaining incidents, as mentioned resulted in citations

Citizens have found it increasingly hard to argue their innocence in the face of glaring video evidence.  This is especially true in the case of rolling stops (slowing, but not fully stopping when turning at a red light).  Some citizens insisted their innocence, but when showed the video gave up their claims, according to the cops.

Perhaps the good thing for citizens is that the citation is merely a non-moving violation, which carries no points and thus does not raise drivers' insurance.  It weighs in at $50 USD per ticket.  The perhaps interesting part is that the language used by various towns in the state indicate that there's a lower standard of Constitutional protections with such systems.  Lawyers for the towns of Chattanooga and Red Bank (where a similar system is deployed) write, "[Drivers] are not entitled to a trial by jury, a presumption of innocence or a heightened burden of proof."

That's typical for civil offenses, which bear a lower burden of proof.  But its atypical for traffic violations, which often carry a presumption of innocence and allow citizens to request a trial by jury.  The shift is likely due to the light penalty associated with the ticket, but it's worrisome because that penalty could be bumped at some point to a full moving violation.

Two $10M USD suits about the system are pending.  However, these suits, which will be heard in court on September 20, seem unlikely to succeed.  After all, the Tennessee Court of Appeals recently denied complaints about Knoxville, Tennessee's similar camera system.

Another concern is the reliability of such systems.  Students in 2008 in Montgomery County, Maryland used fake license plates to spoof similar systems which gave speeding tickets.  The result was multiple people they pranked receiving traffic fines.



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RE: Maybe I missed them...
By Iaiken on 7/29/2010 11:33:06 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is due to people slamming on thier brakes to avoid the red light ticket, and getting rear-ended.


This should have read:

quote:
This is due to people being too stupid to assess if they can make it through the intersection (while speeding) after being warned by the amber that it's about to turn red, and getting rear-ended.


I've driven up and down the PCH from San Francisco to San Diego where there are tons of red light cameras and every single one of the 6 incidents I have witnessed involved excess speed and stupidity.

If it's a stale green, be prepared to stop... what is so hard about that? Really?


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By Kurz on 7/29/2010 12:03:02 PM , Rating: 4
Each light has a different timing... thats why.
Most people do not have a keen mental math to figure if they can make a light or not.

Plus many lights in the same speed limit have different timings from green to yellow to red.

Its not as black and white as you think Iaiken.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By lamerz4391 on 7/29/2010 12:18:08 PM , Rating: 4
Every light with a camera on it should be required to display a timer as well advising how many seconds are left before the light changes to yellow. Drivers would more accurately be able to judge whether they can make the light or not. Would that be so hard to implement? Hell, put it on all lights to improve safety for all. As stated by Kurz, there is NO consistency on how long green lights are between cities, or even within a city.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By Iaiken on 7/29/2010 12:43:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Every light with a camera on it should be required to display a timer as well advising how many seconds are left before the light changes to yellow.


Most lights in Toronto already have this as part of the pedestrian signals and they are easily visible to through traffic.

When it hits 0 and the hand comes up then you have ~5 seconds before the amber, then ~3 seconds from amber to red.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By lamerz4391 on 7/29/2010 12:56:49 PM , Rating: 3
That's a good solution, and should be required for every single light with a camera.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By MikieTImT on 7/29/2010 1:08:46 PM , Rating: 2
It would be a good solution to any intersection, regardless of whether there is a camera. Most of the lights in NW Arkansas have been changed to LED anyway, so all that would be required is a little logic in the bulb circuits to display digits instead of having all LEDs always on, and the data uploaded from the computer at the corner of the intersection. It would be something trivial to implement even for a first year digital techniques student getting his computer or electrical engineering degree.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By menace on 7/29/2010 6:09:39 PM , Rating: 2
In my home town in the good ole US of A the crosswalk signals will flash and then have digital count down from 10 sec to the yellow light, with no delay. The light changes to yellow as soon as the count gets to zero.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By Iaiken on 7/29/2010 12:39:42 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Its not as black and white as you think Iaiken.


Seems pretty clear cut to me. People are stupid, lazy and unwilling to learn how to operate their vehicles correctly and unwilling to learn the capabilities and limitations of their vehicles.

I know:

How much distance I need to stop from every speed 10mph from 100mph.
The distance and time it takes me to accelerate up to highway speed.
How rain, sleet, snow and ice affect that stopping distance.
How the above affects my acceleration and steering.
How big my friggen car is.

I got all of this experience from driver training and road rally events. Consequently, I've never run a red, never rolled a stop and avoided numerous accidents with people who invaded my lane.

Driving is about paying attention (100% focused on what is going on around your vehicle), being prudent, patient, predictable and prioritizing where you need to look.

Unfortunately, most people see driving as a right and not the privilege that it actually is. Frankly, it is in my interest to support any action that takes licenses out of the hands of people who are too stupid to pilot a vehicle safely.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By zmatt on 7/29/2010 1:04:00 PM , Rating: 2
Well said, unfortunately there are maybe 10% of people who think this way and the rest are too busy text, talking, eating or doing whatever else to care. I've been hit as a pedestrian twice by people not obeying the rules of the road, luckily there were no major damages either time and I'm not the suing type. It's very unlikely but a major overhaul of the way driving is taught and handled in this country is needed.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By tmouse on 7/29/2010 1:05:43 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
I know: How much distance I need to stop from every speed 10mph from 100mph


I have to call BS on that statement. I'm sure you can calculate it but I seriously doubt you KNOW EVERY distance at EVERY speed including alterations in EVERY road condition, which you claim in the next sentence. I seriously doubt you know the EXACT speed you are going unless you have a digital speedometer and even then you would be looking at that instead of the intersection which dosen't qualify as 100% focused.

Keep in mind yellow light durations vary considerably, where I live its 8-10 seconds, where I work its 2-3 seconds. How do you know the durations in areas you have never been in? There are times where accidents could be avoided by NOT suddenly stopping, even IF you are driving "100% focused" you CANNOT control the guy behind you, you can be dead right and stil end up just as dead when they hit you. I do not defend running lights but things are most certainly NOT black and white as you feel.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By fic2 on 7/29/2010 3:07:57 PM , Rating: 2
He also implies that he always knows the exact distance he is to every intersection.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By Iaiken on 7/29/2010 3:23:23 PM , Rating: 3
YOU can play with literalism all you want if it makes you happy.

I've got a pretty good idea how far 250ft is and that I need every foot of it to bring my car to a complete stop from 100mph on dry pavement.

I'm not talking about stupid classroom theory crap, I am talking hour after hour on a skid-pad with some pylons in the summer, rain(simulated) and winter.

As for the guy behind you, I have avoided getting rear ended by using my rear view mirror while I brake. On one instance, I wound up sitting in the crosswalk in front of the car to my left so that the idiot behind me could run the red.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By tmouse on 7/30/2010 8:06:55 AM , Rating: 3
It's not a question of literalism, YOU said "I KNOW" every this and every that. Ok so you’re a safe driver but you statements make you come off as a "holier than tho" self righteous total prig. Are there a lot of really poor drivers, sure, I drive 120 miles per day so I have seen REALLY STUPID driving, I could write a book. Even in your lower posts you use generalizations, 3 sec on dry pavement is meaningless unless you state your speed. You use the term "pretty good" now but above you said you "KNOW, at EVERY speed between 10-100". While I agree with your sentiments in numerous posts you appear to be calling the vast majority fools while proclaiming your excellence. While I consider myself a reasonably safe driver (over 1.5 million miles with only one under 5mph bump and 1 speeding ticket) I have done a few things that were shall we say less than smart at the time, ANYONE who drives a lot has.

Your rearview mirror retort is equally lame, "use the rearview mirror" I do. As a matter of fact the one "accident" I had I was stopped in the left turn lane waiting for the light, I hear breaks squeal and guess what happened? Just using a mirror is FAR from an assured way to avoid that kind of an accident. In your own example you were lucky the guy on your left had stopped on time so you could be in front of him, if he was already stopped (as in a left turn lane) then you must have pulled into the intersection and been a potential hazard to the oncoming cross traffic. IF you were in the right lane would you have jumped the curb or shifted into the left lane? What would have happened if there was someone crossing the crosswalk or entering the intersection? Fact is rarely in those cases do you have ANY control of what goes down.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By mindless1 on 7/30/2010 10:54:05 AM , Rating: 2
You've been caught in a lie, just accept that. Any driver who has a fair amount of time behind the wheel of the same car has a rough idea how far it will take them to stop, how long to get up to speed... you were trying to pretend you have some extra special super powers instead.

Hour after hour on a skid-pad doesn't do anything to help you deal with dissimilar situations where the main problem is other people doing unpredictable things. You act as though maneuvering the pad matters then concede you went out of bounds to avoid being rear-ended. Clear contradiction, and pretty darn selfish if someone happened to be jogging along and you didn't see them because you were looking in your rear view mirror so you plowed into them trying to save your precious car.

Maybe you should just go back to driving school and focus on the basics.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By menace on 7/29/2010 6:15:31 PM , Rating: 2
He is the Rain Man of the DMV


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By mindless1 on 7/30/2010 10:48:31 AM , Rating: 2
You are either lying or ignorant.

You do not know the distance you need to stop from ANY distance, NONE. It varies per tire temperature, road grade, road surface, road surface contamination, tire inflation, weight your vehicle is loaded to, etc.

You do not know the distance and time to accelerate. Similar to above it depends on several factors including vehicle loading, air temperature, fuel blend (you do not test every gallon you pump before driving away from a gas station do you?), road grade, etc.

You do not know how rain sleet snow or ice effect that distance - you can only make a guess extrapolated from one specific set of test data that will not apply to any other scenario.

I'm sure you pretend you can whip out a pocket calculator and take all these factors into account in the fractions of a second you have to respond while driving.

How about the truth? How about accepting that your overconfidence makes you more likely to get into trouble on the road - not less.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By Suntan on 7/29/2010 1:02:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Each light has a different timing... thats why.


If you see the light turn yellow, slow down and prepare to stop. It really *isn't* that hard.

It is the people that start pondering in their head if they are "going to make it" that end up rolling through as the light turns red.

-Suntan


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By sviola on 7/29/2010 1:42:47 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah...people forget a basic concept about the yellow light: it means to slow down so poeple can manage to stop on the red. Not, red is coming, lets speed up.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By Kurz on 7/29/2010 8:19:22 PM , Rating: 2
>.> so 30 Feet from the Intersection I should Slam on my brakes?


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By MaDS on 7/30/2010 2:52:05 AM , Rating: 2
Seeing as how 30 feet at 30mph will not even take a full second, I don't see why you would want to slam your brakes. If the light turns yellow when you're at 30 feet, you just drive on.

Here in Europe (well, at least in Belgium) yellow means: "stop if you can". So for a given speed you decide on a point where you can't stop anymore. If you're past it and it turns yellow, you drive. If you're not past it, you stop. Easy enough.


RE: Maybe I missed them...
By fic2 on 7/29/2010 3:06:54 PM , Rating: 2
Some friends and I were emailing about red light cameras earlier in the week. One of them said that a show of CBS looked at the timings of yellow lights and there seemed to be a correlation with shorter yellow lights and the installation of a red light camera.

My solution to red light runners was to have tire spikes pop up as soon as the light turns red. That would tell you instantly when you tried to run a red light. It would also "encourage" people not to.


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